Caitlin Fitch

Whale of a Time

Gray Whales Count’s Season Comes to a Splashing Close

This humpback whale put on a great show two Sundays ago in the Santa Barbara Channel, breaching like a rocket, waving its pectoral fins, and barrel-rolling in the water as volunteers from Gray Whales Count enjoyed their annual end-of-count party on the Condor Express. Gray Whales Count is a research and education nonprofit that, for about 101 days from mid-March until the end of May, arms dedicated volunteers with binoculars and data sheets. Then they trade shifts at “Counter’s Point” on UCSB’s Coal Oil Point Reserve, staring out into the channel to identify and count gray whales as they migrate toward Alaska. The organization also collects data on other marine mammals. This year’s count, which ended on May 26, counted 1,426 gray whales (including 296 calves), numerous dolphins, and even a few otters in the kelp of Isla Vista. For more info, see

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